There are many schools of thought when handling youth baseball pitchers. However, most can agree on one thing. Pitch counts are needed. Personally, I believe that many professional pitchers can throw far more than 100 pitches every week. They are the best athletes in the world and it is their full-time job to train and prepare their bodies to be ready every five days to pitch.
However, an 11-year-old does not have the proper bio-mechanics, joint stability, and muscle structure to perform this feat. When fatigue sets in, mechanics of the pitching motion breakdown. When the pitching mechanics of a youth pitcher break down we see a significant spike in risk of injury.
While I, along with many coaches, believe winning is important, it’s not more important than risking a career that hasn’t started yet.
Our staff always keeps a close eye on pitchers in bullpens, games, and when they are playing other positions. Every throw adds up. There are several easy to spot signs that indicate a pitcher is reaching their limit.
- Taking more time in between pitches
- Different finish position after each throw
- Velocity drop
- Elbow pushes past head before ball release
Preventing injury is essential in any sport. When a basketball player takes a shot with bad form, they can still make the shot. When a baseball pitcher throws a ball with bad form, it can be the end of his career.
Take this serious! We all owe it to our kids.